A Desireable Property

Going to car shows is sometimes an exercise in patience – waiting until the car you want to photograph is free of strolling gawkers or until a glacier whizzes by…either one…and sometimes an exercise in tasteful criticism. Not that you are allowed to voice it – even the worst cars are there because someone thinks they are the best cars, and gentlemanly behaviour prohibits you from suggesting otherwise. But it is rare that I can go to a show and see a car that I would like to drive.

It’s not that I am mega ambitious – I drive a little green Suzuki Swift all day, and am perfectly satisfied with it. I can look at exotic vehicles all day and not raise a sweat or anything else. But occasionally I do get the wannas. This Dodge has excited the feeling.

It is a simple pre-war coupe with a rumble seat. Still in LHD form. As stock as they come, if you disregard the metallic blue paint finish. The interior has all the characteristics of the era – deco dash instruments, painted finish, and long gearstick. I see an air conditioner there, which bespeaks a larger engine, perhaps. But the whole suggests the best sort of daily driver.

I was also charmed and enlightened to see the handle on the rear part of he cabin. Now I finally know how they secured the rumble seat in a closed position. A daunting place to ride but I’ll bet there would still be takers wherever you went.

Again – if they made them look like this now, we would buy them in a second.


It Must Have Made Sense At The Time


” Rah Rah running boards and rumble seats…Them were the good old days. ”

Briefly remembered snatch of song…but here’s another designer rumbling along in the back of a small British Ford. Decades after the Talbot we showed earlier, but still making the less-favoured sit out in the rain.

One person has pointed out that this is really a two seater. Yep. Trying to be a four seater. And expending a great deal of sheet metal work and parts to do it badly. Also depriving the two-seater’s owner of any useful boot space by filling it up with folding upholstery.


” Oh but look at the flowing speed lines of the car when it is closed. ”

Look at the air dam when it is open.


” But it has a wooden dash. ”

But it doesn’t. It has a wood-grain painted metal dash. A good piece of decoration, but decoration nevertheless, intended to suggest some sort of higher status for the owner. In any case if they are riding inside, they at least have higher status than the ones out on the rear deck dodging gravel.

And yes, I realise that there are no running boards on this Ford. It’s either a wonderful feature of 1930’s modern design or Henry was too cheap to give ’em running boards. He’s left them with a little bare behind…



It Nearly Makes Sense…


This Talbot motor car was at the RACV show on Australia Day this year. It was near on 4:00 and the owner had probably had enough of the pestiferous park crowds by then – kudos to him for putting up with them as long as he did…


Fortunately before he closed it down I got to see the dickie or rumble seat erected. And fortunately the crowd started to thin enough that I could get some unobstructed views. What I saw pleased me greatly but puzzled me a little. The curiosity was not about the modern owner – he had obviously poured years of care and love into the car to get it to be such a showpiece. The curiosity is for the original designer at Talbot and what he envisaged for the car.

Now rumble seats are not uncommon, though I note a lack of them on most of the Ferrari and Lamborghini cars I have seen. Perhaps the Italian builders have not encountered the idea yet…But they were common on cars in the early part of the 20th century. And they were an odd idea, really. Think about it…


You need a seat for a driver in an automobile. If he or she is not a servant, they can be in the same enclosure as the passenger or passengers. It is perfectly feasible to have a car for one person, but they will be lonely, or two people, and they won’t. Or four or five or even more, if it is a charabanc – but if you posit putting four people in a car, why put two of them out in the slipstream? They cannot enjoy the dust, bugs, and fumes. Is it a way of punishing them?

From the looks of the padded seat on the Talbot, yes. Granted it has button upholstery, but look at the size of the hatch that opens into the rumble seat and the space left as a footwell. Even at the slow speed of the early automobile this must have been torture. Mounting to it would have required the agility of an acrobat.


Okay, close the lid. Now you have a natty little deck with trainers slats and a rail to protect the luggage – and presumably to let you strap it on. And then you put another hanger-on luggage boot on the back behind that…


I cannot help but think that it was an exercise in excess when a simple flat tray would have provided more haulage for luggage and an extension of the body to two more seats would have provided space for riders as well. Undoubtedly the design was derived from something earlier in transport – some form of wagon. Roll on the ute.

PS: Pictures taken with the Fujifilm  X-T10. Didn’t the colour turn out well?